THE draw of life in Aquitaine ensures it is one of the most popular areas in France for both holidays and for people to head to and start a new life in the country.
It is the largest région of France and features the sweeping Atlantic coast in the west, the stunning Pyrennes in the south and the lush green forests of the Dordogne in the east.
This abundance was fought over throughout the Middle Ages as the English and French battled over hilltop forts and bastide villages.
The evidence of those days is still clear to see today, but for many it is the peace and tranquillity of the area that draws them to the area today.
The main city of Aquitaine is Bordeaux, which sits on the Gironde estuary, and has become established as home to some of the world’s most famous vineyards.
The Atlantic coast is largely unspoilt and just inland features the extensive pine forests of the Landes that were planted during the days of Napoleon III to secure the sandy, wind-swept landscape.
Heading south and you arrive in the Pyrénées Atlantiques with the popular coastal resort of St-Jean-de-Luz, but head inland the foothills of the mountains are dotted with small hamlets and villages.
For many Brits their brush with Aquitaine will involve a visit to the Dordogne, either to enjoy the many markets and towns, or to rest up during the holiday season in a gite.
The Dordogne has become a magnet to many English-speaking people looking to live in France as it enjoys a tranquil atmosphere and easy way of life.
Naturally this has driven property prices up in the more popular areas, but considering the size of the departement and the fact that many younger people still leave the area, it is still possible to find a little bolthole.
The Dordogne is also home to one of the main towns in the region, Périgueux, which is a major administrative centre.
Finding work in Aquitaine, especially away from the larger towns and cities where there is still no guarantee, will be very hard. Most people will have to rely upon their own ideas and endeavours.
But for many the draw of Aquitaine is the countryside, the importance placed on taking time out for family and friends and the appeal of taking life at a slower pace in the sunshine.
Départements: Dordogne (24), Gironde (33), Landes (40), Lot et Garonne (47), Pyrénées Atlantiques (64).
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